“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”

15 August 2016

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”

This year’s Northern Ireland Confederation for Health and Social (NICON) provided an opportunity for leaders in the system to meet and consider the issues for Health and Social care in Northern Ireland.

Stephen Darrell, Chairperson of the NHS Confederation in England, said “that planning for the future workforce in Health and Social Care should be less about roles and more about skills, competencies and capabilities. It is in this context that we should be supporting the development of a thriving social care workforce that can offer a career pathway into management or the professions within Health and Social Care for those who would wish to progress in this way but can also support care workers to develop their practice in a way that allows them to continue to provide direct care in an environment that values their contribution and understands their learning and support needs”.

Colum Conway NISCC CEO-  "I had the opportunity to lead discussions on regulation and workforce. Much of the current discussion on professional regulation relates to the challenges presented by risk based regulation and how it can be applied along the continuum for quality assurance and quality improvement".

It’s fair to say that service user expectations are greater than ever and the appetite or tolerance for poor experience are lower than ever.
Understanding the potential risk and harms in Social Work and Social Care is crucial for NISCC so that it can make a useful contribution to quality assurance and quality improvement in the practice of every single person on the register.
To do this, we have to be vigilant to spot emerging threats; nimble to respond quickly and appropriately; and to be skilful masters of the entire intervention tool kit.
Fitness to Practise is a tool for the 1% of the workforce that are investigated for potentially falling through the floor of minimum Standards of Conduct and Practice. For the other 99%, other tools exist such as compliance assistance and support, strategic workforce development, preventative action, research and data analysis, problem solving partnerships and communication and engagement.
Social Work has a strong framework to support professional development which will always need further support and development to drive forward professional standards and on-going quality improvement in practice.
The Social Care workforce does not have such a framework so it needs to be developed to provide quality assurance in the first instance but also to drive quality improvement. It is crucial we have a framework that can bring a focus to the sector on the consistent application of Standards of Conduct and Practice for every individual who is involved in a caring relationship with a service user. A framework for the whole workforce but one that every individual can understand and make a commitment to; one that will underpin a culture of belonging and pride in the quality of care provided by the Social Care workforce regardless of where they work or who they work for.
The Social Care workforce is the single largest workforce in Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland. We estimate there will be 30,000 people on Part 2 of the register by March 2017.
The majority are women, 45% are under the age of 40 years and approximately half are qualified to a minimum level 2 QCF.
There are 500 employers in Social Care across the statutory, private, voluntary and community sectors with a broad range of job roles, titles, terms and conditions and support and practice structures.
It’s a large and highly flexible workforce with the potential to address workforce gaps and the mismatch between supply and demand. It will be a crucial part of the delivery of care in the transformational change envisaged for Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland – it will be at the forefront of implementation in prevention; in care; in innovation; in working in partnership; in co-production and co-design; in managing change; in creating a new footprint for community based care that is founded on outcomes for service users.
With the current roll out of compulsory registration to Domiciliary Care, Day Care and Supported Living staff we are working closely with Employers to ensure their staff are registered by March 2017.Registering with NISCC means that the public can be assured that a worker is safe and competent to practise.

Colum Conway

Chief Executive

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